WALKING WITH GOD.
"For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps: who did not sin, neither was guile found In his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." Peter 2: 21-23.
My subject this evening is walking with God. For six thousand years God has been trying to win men back into his company, that they might walk with nim. We would be saved from many a dark hour, if we were only willing to walk with God; if we would only just let him take us by the hand, and lead us through this dark world. He would not lead us into darkness; He would not lead ua into trouble and sorrow; he would lead us into the light. He sent his Son down here to tell us how to walk. In the 1st epistle of Peter, 2d chapter, 21st, 22d and 23d verses, it says: "For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his stead; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, and when he was reviled, reviled not again. When he suffered, he threatened ,not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."
What God wants is for us to follow in his footsteps. I have been told that there are some men out on the frontier, in the wilds of America, who in going through the Rocky Mountains will find an Indian trail where there is only one footprint, as if only one man had gone over the mountains; and I am told by those who know a good deal about these Indians, that the chief goes before, and all the rest of the tribe follow him and put their foot into his footsteps. That is what our Chief wants us to do. He has passed through the heavens and gone up on high, and Wants us to follow. Whenever we are tempted, if we would just ask the question: "I wonder if Jesus would do it if he were here?" and be willing to take him aa our guide, what a help it would be! I am talking now to (rod's people—to Christians; for no man would have any desire to walk with God until he is a Christian. You must be a subject of the kingdom of God before you will have any desire to follow the King. Will you turn to the 26th chapter of Leviticus—" Ye shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. If ye walk in my statutes and do them, then will I give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." And so he goes on and tells how he will bless them; and then again in the 12th verse: "And I will walk among you and will be your God, and ye shall be my people." If God is only walking with us, what power we h&ve got! We have nothing to fear then. We have nothing to fear, literally nothing, because God with all his influence is walking with us. We can walk through into glory; that is what he has promised us we may do. But ke gives us a warning in the same chapter and the 27th verse: u And if you will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk contrary unto yo,u also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins." "I will walk contrary to you." What is it makes all the trouble in New York? Because men are walking contrary to God. All the trouble in this world comes from that. He says: "If you will keep my statutes, I will walk with you." As long as God was walking with Israel, they had power and success; but they did not want him; they cast him out; they wanted a king like the nations round about. What is the result? How quickly they got into trouble, and God had to bring a deliverer, and send David. That has been the experience of men for thousands of years. The moment a man goes away from God and breaks away from his influence, he gets into trouble. I believe God has his hand upon this nation now, because they have walked contrary to him. During the past few years how he has blessed this nation! (I am talking now of his own children.) How many of them have prospered abundantly! But they have not made good use of their prosperity, and God has taken it away from them. I do not think he has got through yet. The hand of God seems to be upon the nation, and he is working contrary to us now. Most of us cannot stand prosperity. The moment God begins to prosper us, we forget all about him, and are tarried away by the temptations of the world. In the 6th chapter of Jeremiah, 16th verse: "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and seek, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." There is where you get rest, in the old path. Men want everything different from the old way; they want some new Bible; they want some new Tophet, some new church, something that will tickle their ears and tell them there is no God and no heaven and no hell. That is the trouble. They do not want the good old gospel; they do not want the God of the Hebrews; they • It i not want the God of this Bible. Their cry is, "Give us some new gospel; give us some new way."
Every generation for the last six thousand years has had its class of men that wanted some way besides God's way. He says: "Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." If you want to find people that have rest, you will see they have found it in the old way. No one ever found it in the "broad church," as some call it. But here they will not hearken. They say, "We will not hearken." What is the racult? The foreign nations came and conquered them, and took their princes from them, and all their noblemen, and took them off to Babylon, and kept them seventy years in slavery; and they hung their harps on the willows, for they could not play in a foreign land. If you say, "We will not walk in the old way," then God will walk contrary to you.
It is one of the most astonishing things to me to see how people can go on, with their open Bible in their hands, and expect to gain anything by walking contrary to God. We do not gain anything by turning away from the God of our fathers. It is better to walk alone with God than to go with the whole world. The whole world has got to be punished if it goes contrary to God. Turning a moment into the New Testament, in Second Tessalonians, 3d chapter, 6th verse, I read: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you." Then turn over to Second Corinthians, 6th chapter, and 14th verse: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, aaith the Lord Almighty."
Now, if that is not clear, nothing is. We are then told what to do, and that if we are to keep company with God we have to be separate from the world. I do not know but it would be a good thing to stop preaching the gospel and go right to work and preach separation to the church, until the church shall separate from the world. If we could only draw the line, and say wherein they shall be separate I
This idea that we have to be mingled with ungodly men and be yoked with them is contrary to the teachings of God. God says, "If you will separate from the world, I will walk with you and bless you." If some prophet would arise and raise a cry of separation, and impress it upon the people until we could get the Church of God separate from the world, it would be a great day for Christian people. "Be not unequally yoked." What does that mean? Some say that means matrimony. If a Christian man has a Christian wife, he says it means matrimony. If he has an unchristian wife, and wants to get away from her, he says it means matrimony. If a man who is a Christian wants to marry a woman who is not a Christian, he says it does not mean matrimony. A man oame to me one day, after I had been preaching on this subject, in great trouble. He said, "I enjoyed that part of your lecture ever Bo much, but I don't believe it means secret societies; does it?" "Do you belong to one? said I. "Yes," he said. And so people think it means what it says, unless it goes right home to them. I think we do not need any particular light thrown upon that passage; It is very clear. If God will walk with us, we have to be separate from unbelievers. If I am identified with ungodly persons, how is God going to walk with mef How can two walk together unless they be agreed? Walking means communion, fellowship. If you see two men walking together every day, coming up from business at night and going back down the avenue to business in the morning, we make up our minds that they agree with one another, and have fellowship together. If a man if walking all the time with unbelievers, it is pretty good proof that he is not walking with God. God says you must come out and be separate from the world. I believe it means matrimony. I do not believe a Christian man has a right to marry rfny unconverted woman. I do not believe any woman has a right to marry any unconverted man. I imagine you will, many of you, go out of this building after you have heard this, and laugh about* it, and ridicule the whole idea. Nevertheless, here is the Word of God for it. I never knew any one to go against it that did not suffer for it. Let him that takes off the harness laugh, not him that puts it on. It is not for you, young people, that have not seen as much of life and the world as some others, to say that you can go right on and dispute this thing. Yoc can see it is plain. There is not a mother here that would not feel badly to have a daughter marry a man that could not bear her, but would only make her wretched and abuse her. There is no father here who would not be made miserable by such a possibility. Do you suppose God does not feel it to have his sons and daughters marry an unregenerate and unconverted person that hated God, and would doubt him and misrepresent him and abuse him? That it what the world is doing. You say: "Yes, but I will have influence over this person if I marry him." Well, get influence over him before you marry him. You may say some Christians are already married to unbelievers. Well, you have passages of scripture about that to tell you what to do. You are not then to be separated. If you are not already married, if you are not yoked, you had better take the advice given here in the Word of God. Do not be yoked up with unbelievers. Some of you say, perhaps: "If you take that ground, some people will leave the church." Well, of course; but a great many more will come who will be worth hundreds of such. Is it not a good deal better to have these false professors go back? We say go back; but that they could not do, because th«j have never really gone forward. It is the church shaking off these pretenders that are hanging on to it. God says, he will walk with us and adopt us as his children. I would rather have the smile of heaven than the applause of the unconverted world. We have been trying too long to call upon the sons of Belial to help on the churoh. We can get on without them. It will wake up the converted pretenders to feel that the church can do without them. You sav we need their money. We can get along well enough without it. (5od's people have money enough. God is rich; the cattle on a thousand hills are his; he can take care of us; he has money enough.
A man came to me some time ago in some trouble, because having formed a partnership some time before with two men in business, he found his partners wanted him to do something that would compromise his Christian principles. He was greatly excited. I asked, "When did you form this partnership?" "Three years ago." "When did you become a Christian?" "Fifteen years ago." "Oh," laid I, "there is the trouble. Why did you go and yoke yourself up with these unbelievers?" He said: "I thought I could make more money, and could give it to the Lord." That is the way with a good many; but the Lord can do without your money. Be right with God, and let the money take care of itself. I cannot, with an open Bible before me, see what right any child of God has to go and yoke himself up with unbelievers, in business, or in secret societies, 01 any other society. If you say it is to do good, you can do more good without them than you can possibly do by identifying yourself with them. Abraham had more influence over Sodom away up in heaven than Lot had there in Sodom. You say you must go into the world, tnd go to theatres and the opera, and he hand and glove with the world, in order to lift the world up, and get an influence over the world. I am sure that in the twenty-one years that I have been in the Church of God, it has been my experience that these worldly Christians never lifted up the world yet. Some one said: "You might as well try to make the ocean fresh by throwing a piece of fresh meat into it, as expect to help up the world by becoming apart of it"
We have been redeemed out of this world and transplanted into another world. We are children of the light; let us walk with children of the light, and not with children of darkness. I have noticed that when a Christian man goes into the world to get an influence over the world, and does as the world does, he suffers more than the world does. Oh, my friends ifyou want power with God and man, be separate from the world! You say if you take that stand you will have to go alone! Well, you can go alone, if you have God with you. Some one said, "If you take that course, the whole world is against you." Well, then, be against the whole world. Stand alone with God, and God will bless you. Joseph in Egypt, walking with God, had more power than all the men in Egypt aj—rt from him. When they locked him into prison, they had to lock the Almighty in with him. You may suffer in the sight of the world, for a while; they may abuse you and say that you are a Pharisee. Never mind. Know that you are right, and be able to look up and see God smiling upon you. Oh, that God's dear people may learn the sweet lesson of separation! Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers. Come out from them. "I will be your God, and I will walk with you," says Jehovah. I believe in my soul that the reason why so few of us have power with God and with man is because we are so near the world, and we are so much like it. Oh I that the Spirit may show us what it is to be separate, to-day, that we may know what it is to have God walk with us!
In the 8th chapter of John, it tells about a great many Christians that are groping in darkness; and I hear a great many persons say they feel just so. I will tell you the reason. You have got away from Christ. I contend that it is utterly impossible for any child of God to walk in the darkness who is following him. "Why? Because he is the Light of the World. If you just get near him, you will have the light all around you. ■ It is because people have got away from the light that they are groping in darkness. It is the privilege of every child of God to walk in an unclouded sun. If people would stop looking down at themselves, and would look up at Christ and keep looking at him, they would have peace and light and joy all the while. That is where you get those things. There is no light in ourselves; or if there is, it is borrowed light that comes from God. Christ is the Light of the World. He says: "If any man follow me, he shall not walk in darkness; he shall have the light of life."
When I was a little boy I used to try to catch' my own shadow. I don't know whether any of you have been so foolish as that or not. I could not see why the shadow always kept ahead of me. Once I happened to be racing with my face to the sun, and I looked over my head and saw my shadow coming back of me; and it kept behind me all the way. It is the same with the Sun of Righteousness. Peace and joy will go with you while you go with your face toward him.
Once I was trying to walk across the field after a fresh fall of snow. I would try and see how straight a line I could make with my footprints in the snow. When I looked around to see how straight I was going, I always walked crooked; but if I kept my eye on the mark ahead of me, and did not take it off, I could walk straight enough. So if Christians only kept their eyes on the mark—on Christ Jesus, and followed in his footsteps, not turning around to see what kind of a path they made—they would walk straighter. He is our model. If, instead of asking, Why can't I do this and that? Why can't I dance? Why can^t I go to the theatre? Why can't I read The New York Ledger* I don't see why I can't do it! Can you? Then put it in this way, What is the use of it? "Will it make me a better Christian?" If it won't, then I won't do them. Instead of asking, What is the use? and Why can't I? ask if it will be for the honor and glory of Jesus; and if it won't, say, I won't do it.
I do not see that we can have any better example than Christ himself. Just consult the Word of God, and see what Christ would do. Fou will find that God never makes a man do wrong. Who ever heard of a man backsliding who walked with God? God never backslides. If we are going to keep company with God, we have got to walk. God does not stand still, and does not run. You must grow in grace, or else in worldliness. Enoch walked with God. He found the right way, back there in that dim age. He was the most unpopular man in that time. If they had had him up for office, I don't think he would have got to be even so much as constable. God and he agreed very well, so that at last God said to him, "Come up here »nd walk with me." Old Dr. Bonner said, "Enoch started on a very long walk one day—he has not got back yet." It is sweet to walk with God. We walk the wilderness to-day, and the promised land to-morrow. Oh, that we all could say, "Father, take my hand," and pat our hands in his to-day. There is a difference between our having hold of God and his having hold of us. If God has hold of me, I cannot fall, can I? If the great God who oreated heaven and earth held us by the hand, what nave we to fear? When my little girl was about three or four years old her mother got her a new muff, and then she wanted to go right out and take a walk with that muff. She teased me to go out walking with her. I told her I was tired, but after a while I got up and went with her. I said, "Emma, you had better let me take hold of your hand." She said, "No, I want to put my hands in my muff like mamma does." She was as proud as a peacock •with the muff, and went strutting down the street. So a great many people start out with the idea that they are saved and can get along without the Word of God, but they find they need to have God hold them all the time. My little girl went alone for a minute, and by-and-by down she went. When she got up she said, "Papa, I wish you would let me take hold of your little finger;" but I said, "If you do, when your feet go from under you, you will let ifu and go down." She insisted on having my little finger, so I gave it to her. Pretty soon her little feet slipped from under her, and down she went again. Then when she got up she said, "Papa, I wish you would take my hand." So I took her little hand, and held it by the wrist. Her feet went out from under her a number of times After that; but she did not fall, because 1 held her. Oh, my friends let us learn the lesson to-day of separation from the world. Enooh walked with God, and God saved him. Abraham walked with God, and God becamo his friend. L" -i, to- ' •- out our hands in his ut friend, and take hold and walk with him.